New Regionalism

Rod Seppelt rod_sep at ANTDIV.GOV.AU
Tue Mar 17 06:57:14 CST 1998

In response to Richard Zander's comments:

I agree with you that it is not possible to study the local picture without
having a global perspective.
There are not too many beasts (plant or animal) that have an entirely local
distribution - local species perhaps, but there are very few local genera.

As a negative to this, however, let me put one side of the story from a
southern hemisphere and, perhaps, insular perspective.
For several centuries the southern continents have suffered - yes, I think
that is the correct word - from marauding northern hemisphere collectors.
As a result, the floras, faunas, fossil assemblages, have been creamed or
their goodies.
As a result of, at times, unscrupulous collectors and collecting, people
down in the southern hemisphere have become a little testy towards foreign
In many instances, Holotypes are now (and still) being lodged in northern
hemisphere collections.  At least in Australia, this is in breach of the
law, but that does not seem to deter the practise.  In recent times we have
had several huge raids on our bryoflora, on our fossil fauna deposits, our
lichen flora, groups of fungi - and there have probably been other
collections I do not know about.
Quite understandably and reasonably, researchers in the countries towards
which these raids are directed, have become just a little annoyed at the
practise.  There seems to be little attempt to carry out the work
collaboratively.  If this were done, it may go a long way to allaying the
problems caused by such collecting visits - often these are unannounced as
Perhaps researchers in the northern hemisphere have flogged their regional
biota to death.
If we had the numbers and carried out equivalent "raids" on the northern
hemisphere perhaps some people may see the light and rationalise their
approach to making such collections.

So, while I can see the need to focus locally to appease the grant seeking
agencies, I also see the need for a broader approach - or at least a
broader understanding of the problems being researched.
But, I do ask for a little thought to be given first, by prospective
collectors, to the potential impacts of their actions on international

Let this stir the pot!!

Rod Seppelt

Dr. Rodney D. Seppelt
Principal Research Scientist
Australian Antarctic Division
Channel Highway
Kingston 7050, Tasmania, Australia

phone:  International:  +61 (03) 62 323 438
        FAX          :  +61 (03) 62 323 449

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